DENVER – Leave the buzzer-beaters and heart-stoppers to the other guys.
For Gonzaga, these are the March Mismatches.
The Bulldogs, looking like something much different than an 11 seed, rolled over No. 3 Utah on Saturday, 82-59 behind 22 points from Eric McClellan and a 19-point, 10-rebound effort from Domantas Sabonis.
This was a wire-to-wire effort even more impressive than their 16-point win over Seton Hall in the first round.
“We played as good as probably we’ve played all year, on what is the biggest stage,” coach Mark Few said.
Next up for the Zags (28-7), a game against Syracuse or Middle Tennessee in the Midwest Regional.
Kyle Wiltjer had 17 for Gonzaga. He went 3 for 4 from 3-point range, all in the first half, to help the Bulldogs jump to a quick double-digit lead.
This game was billed as a battle of big guys, between the 210-cm Sabonis and Utah’s 213-cm center, Jakob Poeltl. That fizzled. Poeltl finished with five points and four rebounds. He got in foul trouble early — drawing his first when Sabonis spun to the baseline and left Poeltl grabbing to prevent the dunk.
“He’s an incredible player,” Poeltl said. “He made some really good plays today. It’s his versatility that makes him so tough to guard.”
On Utah’s first possession of the second half, Poeltl posted up and tried the hook. Sabonis redirected it and the ball never got to the glass. The son of former NBA star Arvydas Sabonis recorded his 22nd double-double of the season.
“He’s a really, really aggressive and tough, tough kid,” Few said. “If you haven’t faced him or felt him — you know, live — I think there’s an adjustment period.”
No. 1 Virginia 77, No. 9 Butler 69: In Raleigh, North Carolina, Malcolm Brogdon scored 22 points and Virginia used some hot second-half shooting to advance to the Sweet 16.
No. 4 Iowa State 78, No. 12 Little Rock 61: In Denver, Georges Niang scored 28 points and Iowa State watched Josh Hagins closely in the second half. The No. 4 seed Cyclones (23-11) advanced to their second Sweet 16 in three years.
No. 1 North Carolina 85, No. 9 Providence 66: In Raleigh, North Carolina, Brice Johnson had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and North Carolina pulled away for the win.
No. 5 Indiana 73, No. 4 Kentucky: In Des Moines, Iowa, freshman Thomas Bryant scored 15 of his 19 points in the final eight minutes, helping the Hoosiers earn a spot in the regional semifinals in Philadelphia. Yogi Ferrell had 18 points, and Troy Williams finished with 13.
No. 1 Kansas 73, No. 9 UConn 61: In Des Moines, Iowa, Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis carried Kansas on a sweet romp to the round of 16, combining for 43 points to help the Jayhawks hand Kevin Ollie his first NCAA Tournament loss as head coach of the Huskies.
No. 3 Miami 65, No. 11 Wichita State 57: In Providence, Rhode Island, Angel Rodriguez took over after Miami blew a 21-point lead midway through the second half, hitting a big 3-pointer with 72 seconds remaining and scoring 28 points to lead the third-seeded Hurricanes into the round of 16.
No. 4 Duke 71, No. 12 Yale 64: In Providence, in a battle of brainy schools, Grayson Allen had 29 points, including five 3-pointers, to help Duke fend off a furious rally by Yale and advance to the Sweet 16.